Beliefnet
WASHINGTON -- Quoting from Islam's holiest book, President Bushvisited the Washington Islamic Center on Monday to declare that "Islam is peace," and to denounce the recent spate of anti-Muslim violence as "not the America I know."

"I've been told that some (Muslim women) fear to leave, some don'twant to go shopping for their families, some don't want to go abouttheir ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraidthey'll be intimidated," Bush said. "That should not and will not standin America."

Bush's remarks came amid a spate of violence targeted at Muslims inthe United States--fueled in part by suspicions that a Muslimfundamentalist group orchestrated the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 that crippled New York City and Washington.

In the days following the attacks, Muslims in California discoveredwhat appeared to be pig's blood thrown on the door of a mosque. Shotswere fired at an Islamic center in Irving, Texas. Near Chicago, policethwarted some 300 non-Muslims who tried to protest at a mosque. Fear ofattacks led to the cancellation of classes at Muslim schools in Detroitand Los Angeles. Some mosques considered canceling Friday prayers.

Such violent behavior is not representative of America, Bush said.

"Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to takeout their anger don't represent the best of America," he said. "Theyrepresent the worst of humankind. And they should be ashamed of thatkind of behavior."

Reading a translation of a verse from the Koran, Bush said "In thelong run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil, forthat they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule."

Terrorism "is not the true faith of Islam," he said. "That's notwhat Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don'trepresent peace -- they represent evil and war."

Muslims contribute much to the country and deserve respect, Bushsaid.

"The Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of themilitary, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads, and they need to betreated with respect," he said. "Women who cover their heads in thiscountry must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wearcovering must not be intimidated in America. That's not the America Iknow; that's not the America I value."

Bush spoke the same day Muslim and Catholic leaders issued a jointstatement appealing to law enforcement agencies and the public "toassist those who may be targets of hate crimes," and denouncingTuesday's terrorist attacks as "diametrically opposed to true religion."

"We believe that the one God calls us to be peoples of peace," readthe statement, whose signatories included the American Muslim Counciland the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Nothing in our HolyScriptures, nothing in our understanding of God's revelation, nothingthat is Christian or Islamic justifies terrorist acts and disruptions ofmillions of lives which we have witnessed this week."

The statement--also signed by the Islamic Society of NorthAmerica, the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Circle of NorthAmerica--cautioned against "sinking to the mentality and immorality ofthe perpetrators of Tuesday's crimes."

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